Bishops address deacons in pastoral letter for Year of Faith

A friend pointed this out on his Facebook page, and it seems worth noting here: the bishops of Phoenix, Thomas J. Olmsted and his auxiliary Eduardo Navares, issued a pastoral letter several weeks back, to mark the beginning of the Year of Faith, and they devoted one section specifically to deacons:

In the Acts of the Apostles (6:1-7), we see that with a growing community, the Apostles needed helpers to assist them by taking care of the widows and the orphans. Here in the Diocese of Phoenix, we are very blessed with men of great faith who have responded so generously to God’s call to holiness and the Church’s call to serve as deacons. During this Year of Faith, we are newly grateful to God for our deacons engaged in a variety of pastoral settings: administering parishes, visiting the sick and the elderly, visiting the prisoners, working among the outcasts and forgotten, bringing the charity of Christ to our Native Peoples, witnessing the Sacrament of Marriage, administering the Sacrament of Baptism, preaching the Word of God at Liturgical celebrations and Holy Mass, catechizing the faithful, and many other roles of charitable service. Your tireless efforts and consistent dedication offer a unique witness in this Year of Faith.

During this special Year, we ask all Deacons throughout the Diocese to commit to renewed efforts of evangelization of our culture and to outreach to the materially poor and the poorly catechized. In your vocation as deacons, strive to engage all persons and all your work with the same passion, love, and zeal as the deacons of the early Church, bearing witness to Christ in both word and deed.

We encourage you also to meditate on the Luminous Mysteries of the Rosary, and especially on how Jesus, by seeking not to be served but to serve, brought the light of faith, hope, and charity into the world. Throughout this Year of Faith, contemplate further how you are called to be channels of the luminous presence of Christ in today’s world. When you pray the Luminous Mysteries of the rosary, reflect on the life of Christ and on your own life as a Deacon in service to the faithful:

▶ The First Luminous Mystery, “The Baptism in the Jordan”: As you prepare families for baptism and as you celebrate baptisms you are in a privileged position to help parents and children to discover anew the life and light that come from Christ and His Gospel. Never underestimate the many graces that God pours forth at every Baptism through your sacred ministry.

▶ The Second Luminous Mystery, “The Wedding of Cana”: When you assist couples in their preparation for Holy Matrimony and when you officially witness marriages in the name of the Church, remember that Jesus worked His first miracle at the Wedding Feast of Cana. Let this inspire you to help these couples look beyond the wedding ceremony and enter into a life-long sacrament in which the love of Christ for His Bride the Church shines forth in mutual love.

▶ The Third Luminous Mystery, “Jesus Proclaims the Kingdom of God”: You are Heralds of the Gospel. You share in the Church’s mission of proclaiming the Kingdom of God. As Jesus brought new light into the world through His preaching, so too do you bear witness to Christ in your teaching, preaching and catechesis. Be ever mindful of the power of God’s word to transform our lives and the lives of those we serve.

▶ The Fourth Luminous Mystery, “The Transfiguration”: When the first disciples were tempted to despair, the Lord Jesus took some of them up a mountain and was trans- figured before them so that their faith might be strength- ened. Your faith too is strengthened by your encounter with Christ through ordination. Stay always close to Him and you will find the grace to be beacons of hope for all, especially for the least of the Kingdom. Remember always, when serving those affected by loss and tragedy, to point them to Christ, the source of our hope.

▶ The Fifth Luminous Mystery, “The Institution of the Eucharist”: As a deacon you are privileged to assist the priest at the altar of the Eucharistic Sacrifice. In this most public role you are witnesses of Christ’s humble gift of Himself. May this mystery inspire you to live an intensely Eucharistic life of generous service.

We are deeply grateful for you, our brothers in the faith, who serve alongside the Bishops and priests in your unique ministry of Word, Altar, and Charity. During this Year of Faith, may all of us come to a greater understanding of your roles as servants of the mysteries of Christ and of your brothers and sisters. May your humble service always reflect the light of Christ to all.

You can read more, and find links to the pdf for the entire letter, here.

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